Russian court awards 14-year prison to Norwegian for espionage

Russian court awards 14-year prison to Norwegian for espionage

Moscow (Web Desk): A Russian court on Tuesday convicted a Norwegian man of gathering espionage about nuclear submarines and jailed him for 14 years.

Frode Berg, a 63-year-old retired former guard on the Norwegian-Russian border, was detained in Moscow in December 2017 and tried behind closed doors this month. He pleaded not guilty to charges of espionage on behalf of Norway.

Berg will not appeal the verdict and plans to request a presidential pardon from Vladimir Putin that would see him freed, according to his lawyer, Ilya Novikov.

Norway’s Foreign Ministry said it had “noted” the verdict but did not comment on its substance. It said it was working in multiple ways to bring Berg back to Norway.

“Norwegian authorities... wish to see the safe return of Frode Berg to Norway,” a ministry spokeswoman said.

Berg, who was wearing a suit and was handcuffed as he watched proceedings from a glass cage, acknowledged having been caught handling sensitive material for Norwegian authorities but denied having any idea he was involved in espionage. Details of the case have not been revealed as they are classified.

Asked by the judge in Russian if he understood the court’s verdict, Berg bowed his head slightly and said “yes” in English.

“He had no illusions. He expects his government will take all necessary steps to secure his release through diplomatic measures,” defense lawyer Novikov said.